The news reported that an owner of a restaurant asks that everyone check in their phones and electronic tablets when they enter the restaurant so the patrons will be free of such devices while eating their meals. He said it was apparent that more and more people were not communicating with each other but texting, checking Twitter and Facebook and answering email during their visits at the restaurant. “Mealtime has always been a time for people to touch base and talk. The disturbing thing was that people were no longer talking to their table mates but communicating with everyone else in the world.”
At this age, I find that I am accumulating an entire zoo of pet peeves. Nevertheless, this one is being pushed to the front, especially at church. I understand that our tablets and phone now contain our Bibles. I know that many young people discuss the sermon during messaging. They are staying engaged through this median in new and exciting ways. However, when I sit next to folks in a small group setting who are “engaged” with their phones or iPad, it isn’t the sermon or the scriptures they are discussing. Almost without exception when I glance over, they are playing games. At times they are texting but there is NO ONE else in the room who is texting back. Therefore, how can they be discussing the Bible study?
Maybe I simply need to get with the times and ignore this behavior but it has become difficult. Understand, I love the new technology. I had a smart phone before smart phones were smart. Special Gathering was using the TRIO years before the iPhone came out. I get the convenience. When my phone dies, it’s like a part of me is missing. I get it.
But there is a time for polite company. Here is a list of times that we should refrain from checking our messages, Twitter accounts, Facebook, texting, or checking our email:
- During a worship service.
- At a meal. There are a multitude of scriptural teachings that God has ordained the meal as a time for fellowship and communion. Losing that time is one of the travesties of modern society.
- While engaged in a one-on-one conversation.
- At a social event.
There are ways to send a message that isn’t intrusive. “Can’t talk now. I’ll call later,” is a message that takes seconds to type but communicates three things. 1) I got the message but I’m doing something important. 2) I won’t forget you and I’ll call back. 3) To the people who are with you, it says, “You are important. I’m not going to interrupt my time with you for someone else.”
I understand that there are some people with whom you MUST talk. Your spouse. Your boss. Your children. A colleague who is currently doing you a favor.
However, why make an appointment with someone if you are going to be barely engaged? Why go to church or a Bible study if you are going to be interacting with the vast world of cyberspace the entire time? Why not stay home or in your office so that you can give full attention to the person who truly needs your attention?
The truth is that most of cyberspace communication isn’t that vital and could wait for an hour. Yet we want to answer because…? Each of us must fill in the blank because our unique personalities dictate the rest of the sentence.